Remember back before the housing bubble burst and the economy went downhill? Back then, owning a home was all about the finding the biggest space you could get, regardless of whether or not you could afford it. Of course, then reality set in and taught us all that a nice small space with a similarly sized rent or mortgage can be a really good thing. More and more people are living modestly and loving it. A small space does not need to be purely utilitarian, though. One can still have a home that is both livable and beautiful.
Creating the Illusion of Space
For starters, there is a need to create an illusion of open space in a smaller living area. A popular tool for this are mirrors – either one large one or several well-placed smaller mirrors. You don’t want to overdo it, though, otherwise you end up with a home that looks like a carnival funhouse. If you’re lucky enough to have tall ceilings, making sure that you let the walls create long lines without breaking them up. Keeping your color scheme light and airy will also help the space seem larger.
Don’t forget that letting light in as well will make a space look larger. To add light without a bunch of lamps taking up space, you can try using track lighting, recessed lighting or a hanging fixture. Of course, natural light is even better, so think about adding a window treatment that’s easy to open and close or that diffuses light without making the room dark. Bamboo blinds or billowy curtains can add a touch of class to a room while still providing the free flow of light that you need.
Anyone who has ever lived in a small space knows that storage is biggest problem to overcome. The good news is that there are lots of creative solutions to storage problems that won’t make your home look like a warehouse. First off, built-in cabinets and shelving can be a great way to reduce the amount of furniture you need and free up more floor space. If you want to hide away your built-in shelves, there’s another great place for a curtain–you can use a window covering to screen off the shelf when it’s not needed. Dual-function furniture can also help. For example, a breakfast nook with storage under the seats can save you a cabinet or shelf and window seat storage can hold a lot of things that you’d like to keep close but out of sight.
It is important to have open areas and rooms that flow well into one another, but are still different. One trick to make the rooms flow well into one another (without knocking out walls) is to have the same flooring throughout the home. In order to create the necessary separation then, the trick is to change the wall coverings and treatments. For instance, the dining room might be separated from the living room by only a half wall and the same hardwood floor may stretch through both, but perhaps the dining room will have tan walls and wooden blinds, but the living room might have brighter paint and elegant drapes.
Another great trick to maximize space in a small home is to fully utilize outdoor space. If there is a deck or patio, adding some shade umbrellas or even better, adding a roof and screening it in will essentially add an extra room for dining and entertaining in the summer. It can be connected more seamlessly to the house with a nice sliding door.
More and more people live in small spaces these days, but that doesn’t mean that they half to live a cramped lifestyle. With a little creativity and planning, any small space can be functional, comfortable and beautiful.